Dragonflies, Masters of the Air

Joined
Jun 27, 2009
Messages
78
Location
Oregon
Dragonflies perfected flight a couple hundred million years before the first bird. The first recognizable dragonfly fossil ancestors had wings and modern dragonflies have wings that are highly refined to give them mastery of the air.

These shots are all with a D700, but with different lenses and settings.

#1 An Aeshna palmata male in Oregon, [email protected]/500 sec, ISO 5000, Exp.Bias -1, 70-180mm [email protected] Note the position of the legs.
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#2 This is also an Aeshna palmata male in Oregon. Dragonflies can move each wing independently unlike other orders of insects. The wings have variable flexibility from base to tip and from front to back, but they can also be rotated giving them the most aerial maneuverability of any insect. Dragonflies keep their head level to the horizon even when their body is torqued into a high-G turn.
[email protected]/2000 sec, ISO 3200, Signa 180mm Macro with a 1.4 TC.
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#3 A male Anax longipes in Pennsylvania. [email protected]/250 sec,ISO 1250, 200mm Micro-Nikkor.
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Joined
Jun 27, 2009
Messages
78
Location
Oregon
great shots. i've tried for a few years to get them in flight, haven't done it yet.
Thanks!
Some species are easier to shoot than others. Many of the Aeshnids are large and patrol over a territory and often hover. Pre-focusing helps. #1 & #2 were shot using a custom titanium alloy gunstock that helped me stabilize my panning. I have shot with a focused flash but the background is so dark that you can't see the wings...so what's the point of stopping them? I have seen some truly stunning flight shots where the wings are totally frozen and also where the wings are imaged at various amounts of blur. I like both. I am envious of several friends who have captured superb shots of copulating and tandem pairs in flight.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2009
Messages
78
Location
Oregon
Impressive in-flight images! #2 is especially stunning.
Thank you!
This summer I want to try the D810 with the 200mm. Diffraction may not be a limiting factor with these hyper-active subjects. I have been experimenting with video with some of my microscopic subjects over the winter, but I also want to try on subjects in the field, too.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
834
Location
MN, USA
Nice shots.
I believe I read in my paleontology days that dragonflies at one time had wing spans in excess of 2 feet. I also believe I've read that there are reports of dragonflies capturing hummingbirds in flight. Amazing hunters.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2009
Messages
78
Location
Oregon
Nice shots.
I believe I read in my paleontology days that dragonflies at one time had wing spans in excess of 2 feet. I also believe I've read that there are reports of dragonflies capturing hummingbirds in flight. Amazing hunters.
Thanks.
Yep, Meganeura monyi had a 27 inch wing span. It lived about 325 million years ago. The wings were quite different from modern ones. It was considered to be a Proto-Odonata and of course may not have been an ancestor of modern species. At least 3 species have been photographed taking hummingbirds as prey, including Hagenius brevistylus, that I posted as dragonfly #3.
 

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